The pros and cons of Erik ten Hag staying at Manchester United

Manchester City v Manchester United - Emirates FA Cup Final
Manchester City v Manchester United - Emirates FA Cup Final / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

Manchester United's decision to retain Erik ten Hag as their head coach has sparked considerable debate among fans, pundits, and the broader football community.

As one of the most storied clubs in football history, Manchester United's managerial choices are always under intense scrutiny. This article explores the potential advantages and disadvantages of continuing with Ten Hag at the helm, examining various aspects such as his tactical approach, squad management, and impact on the club's long-term vision.

Pros of keeping Erik Ten Hag

1. Tactical expertise and modern football philosophy

o Innovative tactics: Ten Hag is known for his tactical acumen and ability to implement modern football philosophies. His emphasis on possession-based play, high pressing, and fluid attacking movements aligns with contemporary football trends and can help Manchester United compete at the highest level.

o Adaptability: Throughout his career, Ten Hag has demonstrated an ability to adapt his tactics based on the strengths and weaknesses of his squad. This flexibility can be crucial for Manchester United as they navigate various competitions and face diverse opponents.

2. Player development and youth integration

o Focus on youth: Ten Hag has a strong track record of developing young talent. During his tenure at Ajax, he successfully integrated academy graduates into the first team, creating a blend of youth and experience that brought success. Manchester United’s renowned youth academy can benefit from his ability to nurture young players and give them opportunities to shine. He has demonstrated this during his two years at United with young players like Alejandro Garnacho, Kobbie Mainoo etc.

o Improving existing players: Under Ten Hag, several players have shown significant improvement in their performances. His coaching style encourages players to develop technically and tactically, potentially increasing the overall quality of the squad.

3. Long-term vision and stability

o Visionary leadership: Ten Hag’s long-term vision for the club includes building a cohesive and competitive team capable of challenging for major trophies. Retaining him allows for continuity in executing this vision, rather than disrupting progress with frequent managerial changes. During these two years he has won two titles.

o Stability: Stability is crucial for any football club aiming for sustained success. By keeping Ten Hag, Manchester United can avoid the disruption and uncertainty that often accompany managerial changes, fostering a more stable environment for players and staff. Manchester United has demonstrated this in the past with the continuous changing of the coaches and things have not changed for better.

4. Cultural fit and club philosophy

o Alignment with club philosophy: Ten Hag’s footballing philosophy aligns with Manchester United’s tradition of playing attractive, attacking football. His commitment to this style of play resonates with the club’s history and the expectations of its supporters.

Cons of keeping Erik Ten Hag

1. Pressure and expectations

o High expectations: Managing Manchester United comes with immense pressure and expectations. If results do not meet the lofty standards set by the club’s history and fanbase, Ten Hag could face significant scrutiny and criticism as he faced last season.

o Immediate results: The demand for immediate success can be a challenge for any manager. If Ten Hag is unable to deliver consistent results quickly, the pressure could mount, leading to potential unrest among supporters and media. Despite the two titles won in the first two years, the Dutch coach has got continuous criticism for the results in the Premier League and Champions League.

2. Patience

o Patience required: Success in football often requires time and patience. There is a risk that if results are not immediate, the club and its supporters may lose patience, which could undermine Ten Hag’s long-term plans. Especially now it needs more patience with the new owners coming in the club.

3. Transfer market and squad building

o Transfer challenges: The success of Ten Hag’s tenure will partly depend on the club’s ability to support him in the transfer market. If Manchester United cannot secure his preferred targets, it may hinder his ability to build a squad that fully aligns with his tactical vision. He has stated that he needs new players in order to be successful.

o Squad overhaul: Adjusting the squad to fit Ten Hag’s style 100% may necessitate significant changes, including moving on players who do not fit the system. This process can be disruptive and may require considerable financial investment.

4. Comparisons to predecessors

o Unfair comparisons: Ten Hag will inevitably be compared to his predecessors, including Sir Alex Ferguson. These comparisons can be unfair and add extra pressure, as replicating Ferguson’s success is a daunting task for any manager.

o Past failures: Previous managerial appointments have often struggled to meet expectations. If Ten Hag’s tenure follows a similar pattern, it could lead to a lack of faith in the club’s leadership and decision-making processes.


The decision to retain Erik ten Hag as Manchester United’s head coach comes with both potential benefits and significant risks. His tactical expertise, focus on youth development, and long-term vision offer promising prospects for the club’s future. However, the high expectations, need for immediate results, and challenges in the transfer market present notable hurdles especially with the changed happened in the ownership of the club.


Ultimately, the success of Ten Hag’s tenure will depend on various factors, including the club’s support, patience, and the ability to navigate the pressures of managing one of the world’s most iconic football clubs. By carefully weighing the pros and cons, Manchester United can make informed decisions to support Ten Hag and maximize the potential for a successful and prosperous future.